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Sincerely, Susan: Make the most of family holiday gatherings

Susan E. Kendrick • Dec 4, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Dear Readers ~

Finally, a nip in the air early mornings as we scurry, gracefully of course (ha!), into the holiday season. Thanksgiving weekend presented an overcast day ~ perfect with no snow or rain. Most of the leaves had fallen before the family in-laws and “out-laws” descended upon Daddy’s Elk Lodge. Three from as far away as Denver, Colorado; one family from Mobile, Alabama. The remainder from middle, coastal and south Georgia. Forty-six total and ages ranged from 85 to 3 years old. So, four generations represented. A tradition for our family is to gather for turkey day so all may stay home for Christmas if they choose. Five dogs joined us: one Shih Tzu, Coco; one Dachshund, Vinny (named after Vince Dooley); two Chihuahuas, Rosie and Rango; and my Chocolate Lab/Red-Bone Coon mix, Abbey (named after Westminster Abbey). Though our dogs are not allowed in my parent’s home, they are allowed in the Elk Lodge and cabin.

As always, food was abundant. One ham and two 22-pound turkeys were cooked ... one traditionally in the oven and the other deep-fried in an outdoor fryer filled with peanut oil. For such family gatherings, how can everyone be happy and comfortable all the time? “Let’s line up dishes on the tables in front of the windows.” “Let’s leave dishes on the kitchen counter.” “If anyone calls in, please ask them to pick up ice.” “This needs salt.” “I don’t use salt when I cook.” “I’ll feed Mama.” “Are we ever going to eat?” “My favorite dish was the oyster dressing.” “I hate oysters!” “My favorite was the sweet potato soufflé.” “That’s hilarious … all the dogs are around the kids table waiting for something else to fall on the floor.” “Dogs should not be allowed inside.” “I ate too much.” “I am going to wait for dessert.” “I’m hungry.” “You just ate” ~ a feast by the way!” “May I take a to-go plate?” “We are going to have enough food for the ballgame.” “Who is cleaning up this mess?” “It’s too cold” ~ the oldest generation. “It’s too hot” ~ the menopausal generation. “Turn up the air.” “Turn the air down.” “Please build a fire.” “Please distinguish the fire. It is 65 degrees outside.” “Open the flue all the way!” “It is getting too smoky in here.” “My eyes are burning.” “Open the doors and turn on the ceiling fans.” “Don’t open the doors and turn on the ceiling fans because the smoke will be drawn out into the room.” “Shut the doors cause the flies are getting in!” “I am bored and want Play-Doh.” “That’s my toy.” “No, it’s mine!” “Ugh, has anybody seen Rosie? I can’t find Rosie.” “Aunt Flo looks great for her age, doesn’t she?” “Yes, and so does Daddy.” “Runs in the family.” “The last time I saw you, you were this high.” “It is my turn to ride the Mule.” “That is hilarious that Rango whines whenever Wade is not in sight.” “What?” “Please get hearing aids!” “The TV is too loud.” “The TV is not loud enough.” “Will you help me pull up my pants?” “I brought a whole gallon of milk and it is all gone!” “We sure have a big family.” “Can y’all keep it down to a loud roar?”

A big hit during this holiday was the new Kawasaki Mule that my sister Georgia and her husband Ed bought recently and generously shared with our gang. It is a Rolls Royce next to the pitifully run-down golf cart which is currently not running. Excursions throughout the property were so much smoother! And, of course, everyone wanted their turn.

With the first leg of the holiday season now behind us, we may concentrate on Christmas ... “the most wonderful time of year.” The Annual Christmas Tour of sorority houses in Athens is from 1 to 5 p.m. today. Proceeds benefit Miracle. Our beautiful AXO house sparkles after the girls and Parents Club decorated. They are incredibly talented and eager to share a blessing that our community may enjoy.

God picked our families for us. We may agree with them or not; love them or not; like them or not; look like them or not; be religious or not; conservative or not. Regardless, we are what we are and it is what it is.

So, one thing is for certain …. choosing to break out of our comfort zone or out-of-the-box for a few days each year may be quite entertaining and I just bet that each of us can find at least one thing we can embrace in each family member. Though they may frequently complain, have one nip too much to drink, use inappropriate humor, or put too much salt in all their dishes, there is a life filled with moments worth sharing in each one and finding the common ground of a family member may be embellished so we can remember them when they are gone … or, they us, when we are!

My parents found one thing that worked: if they wanted to see their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they needed to allow the dogs to visit. I found the following to work: swat the flies, make the 10-mile trek into town to Wal-Mart for Play-Doh and just go ahead and pick up a bag of ice and gallon of milk while there. You can always enjoy a glass of eggnog upon your return … if there is any left!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Susan E. Kendrick is a Sunday Stories columnist who shares her insights and Southern humor each month in Sincerely, Susan. To correspond with Susan, email her at [email protected] To share your events for our Out & About calendar, email us at [email protected]

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